OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but Ten-ten is definitely on a different level to Tempura chain Tenya – home of the soggy tempura grease bowl.

Photo by Gregory Lane

That’s probably because it’s not a chain – it’s a stand alone store serving Tendon, Tempura and Soba in Aomono Yokocho, Shinagawa. If you’ve never taken a slow train to Haneda airport, you might not be familiar with Aomono Yokocho – it’s a local stop on the Keikyu Line, just two stops from Shinagawa Station. While there’s not much to bring you here, if you do find yourself in the area you’ll find a wide variety of ‘b-kyuu’ eating establishments as well as fresh produce sellers.

Tempura soba set | Photo by Gregory Lane

Unlike some of the other stores in the area, Tenten looked light and welcoming on a clear but freezing cold Tokyo winter day. Their main offering are sets of tempura don (tempura on rice) as well as soba with tempura. After my experience at Misakimaru (ordering the cheapest thing on the menu), I didn’t go for the absolute cheapest. Instead, I went for the 756yen tempura zarusoba set. Now tempura is one of those things that can taste horrible if done wrong or if not served as soon as it is cooked (which is why I’m not a fan of Tenya). The great thing about Ten-Ten is that they didn’t just assemble my meal from pre-cooked ingredients, they cooked it! The tempura was beautifully crisp and hot – the flavour of each ingredient (prawn, mackerel, squid, nori, green pepper, chikuwa and pumpkin) sealed into the batter. The soba (another thing that needs to be cooked just right) was al dente and had good colour (much more soba flour than the light soba at Komoro Soba) and the light and mildly sweet tsuyu (soup for dipping) went great with the soba.

Photo by Gregory Lane

Also on the menu was a variety of sets ranging from about 650yen to 880yen – many of them consisting of tendon plus a bowl of rice (which to me seems like serving chips with your bread) as well as stand alone bowls of noodles and rice with various toppings from 400yen.

While Ten-Ten doesn’t fall into the super cheap range of some of the chains, it’s worth seeking out if you’re in the area and you need that tempura and soba fix.

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